His rough features resembled the hard Wyoming land from where he came. Sandpaper skin, deep gorges across his forehead and wrinkles alongside the temples like cracked, dry earth. A craggy, stubborn nose. But gentle eyes, narrow as if formed by squinting into the sun over years.
John Perry Barlow, who died on February 7th, was a Grateful Dead lyricist, cyber-pundit, cattle rancher and idealist. He embodied a vanishing America. His lyrics, like his lifestyle, were a world of cowboys, nature and passions. He was a literary heir to Walt Whitman, depicting a rugged American individualism, romanticism and freedom as wide as the Lower 48, with his boots pulled up and his hat worn low. “I have seen where the wolf has slept by the silver stream/ I can tell by the mark he left you were in his dream/ Ah, child of countless trees/ Ah, child of boundless seas/ What you are, what you’re meant to be” he wrote in the song “Cassidy” in 1972 with his childhood friend Bob Weir, a guitarist and singer for the Grateful Dead. His words depicted the freedom of the outlaw. Or it was the honour of the farmer in nature? Or it was hints of the Vietnam War laced within the Biblical story of Esau?